Honorable Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon,
United Nations Organization
Re: The Plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, A mother of three languishing in a US prison for a crime she did not commit.
Congratulations on being elected for a second term, as Secretary General of the esteemed United Nations Organization.
Your historic words in 2007
“I grew up in war. That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service. As Secretary-General, I am determined to see this Organization deliver tangible, meaningful results that advance peace, development and human rights.”
And your recent statement on Dec. 10th 2011
“Human rights belong to every one of us without exception. But unless we know them, unless we demand they be respected, and unless we defend our right — and the right of others — to exercise them, they will be just words in a decades-old document.”
It is these words and your resolve that I am taking the liberty to introduce the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to the United Nations. Her plight as a victim of enforced disappearance, illegal rendition, and torture, is well-known, and has touched the hearts of humanitarians around the globe. She has been convicted of a crime she did not commit, she has been sentenced to eighty-six years imprisonment in a maximum security US federal prison on Carswell military base, Fort Worth, Texas—where she is currently being held in solitary confinement and virtually incommunicado.
The charges and evidence against her were carefully crafted to avoid any of the well documented evidence that agents of the United States, in collusion with the Pakistani military dictator, participated in kidnapping her and her three young children from the streets of Karachi in 2003, or any mention of witnesses who identified her as an inmate in secret American prisons between 2003 and 2008.
There are some in Pakistan who perpetuate the lie that Dr. Aafia was a dangerous terrorist in order to maintain their political viability. There are those in the United States who rely on the same narrative to avoid the embarrassment of being exposed as torturers of an innocent woman and her three small children (two of whom are American citizens).
When I began this campaign to free Dr. Aafia, I had no intention to do anything beyond bringing my sister and her children home. Now – having learned that our family is one of thousands who have suffered similarly, I have come to understand that we are far from alone.
My family, our supporters, and I have chosen to use only legal and peaceful methods in the pursuit of justice for my sister. We have consistently denounced any calls for violence and retribution in Aafia’s name. We hope that our example will demonstrate that such injustices – which have become commonplace as the numbers of disappeared continues to rise – can be combated through the use and rule of law, rather than by military might or violent means.
God has answered our prayers and rewarded our efforts. Aafia has been removed from the secret prisons in which she had been held and tortured for five years and her two older children have been returned to our home. Unfortunately, this is an incomplete victory.
Unfortunately, Dr. Siddiqui’s suffering continues — prolonged solitary confinement while imprisoned, and lack of access to sufficient medical care has left her in a severely weakened state. Conflicting reports of mistreatment and abuse, compounded by the fact that she is not allowed any contact with her family, have left us to fear the worst.
Respected Sir, as you know, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations has sworn to uphold under all costs, sets forth the rights of all human beings. Though I am not an attorney, I believe the facts established in Aafia’s case clearly establish that the Universal Declaration has been violated. For example:
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 5. No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted by the constitution or by law.
Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.
Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s kidnapping, along with her three small children — and their subsequent enforced disappearance, false imprisonment, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and illegal rendition — are all facts which have now been established beyond doubt. That the United States could claim jurisdiction to try her for any crime in the face of overwhelming evidence that agencies of that government were and still are involved in criminal activity against her would also seem to violate a number of United Nations declarations concerning human rights. I have enclosed herewith a copy of an investigative report “Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts”, published by the International Justice Network, which sets forth some of the great deal of evidence which has been exposed to date.
Repatriating Aafia to her homeland is a singularly comprehensive yet simple and unambiguous act. It is one that can lead to new respect for and confidence in the United Nations as an instrument of international peace and cooperation. Accordingly, I look forward to a favorable response and a very strong plea for Aafia’s freedom on your behalf.
May we all be guided to do the right thing without fear or favor.
Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui
M.B.B.S (Dow), MD(USA), ABPN(USA), FCNP, FEEG(Harvard. USA)
Diplomat American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
Ex. Director Epilepsy Program, John Hopkins Univ. (USA)
Consultant Neurologist, Neurophysiologist and Epileptologist.